And presently they came through cheering yokels to the South Lodge, the furthest away from the village, and so under a triumphant arch of evergreens, with banners floating and mottoes of “God Bless the Bride and Bridegroom” and “Health and Long Life to Lord and Lady Tancred.” And now Tristram did take her hand and, indeed, put his arm round her as they both stood up for a moment in the car, while raising his hat and waving it gayly he answered graciously:
“My friends, Lady Tancred and I thank you so heartily for your kind wishes and welcome home.”
Then they sat down, and the car went on, and his face became rigid again, as he let go her hand.
And at the next arch by the bridge, the same thing, only more elaborately carried out, began again, for here were all the farmers of the hunt, of which Tristram was a great supporter, on horseback; and the cheering and waving knew no end. The cavalcade of mounted men followed them round outside the Norman tower and to the great gates in the smaller one, where the portcullis had been.
Here all the village children were, and the old women from the almshouse, in their scarlet frieze cloaks and charming black bonnets; and every sort of wish for their happiness was shouted out. “Bless the beautiful bride and bring her many little lords and ladies, too,” one old body quavered shrilly, above the din, and this pleasantry was greeted with shouts of delight. And for that second Tristram dropped his lady’s hand as though it had burnt him, and then, recollecting himself, picked it up again. They were both pale with excitement and emotion, when they finally reached the hall-door in the ugly, modern Gothic wing and were again greeted by all the household servants in rows, two of them old and gray-haired, who had stayed on to care for things when the house had been shut up. There was Michelham back at his master’s old home, only promoted to be groom of the chambers, now, with a smart younger butler under him.
Tristram was a magnificent orderer, and knew exactly how things ought to be done.
And the stately housekeeper, in her black silk, stepped forward, and in the name of herself and her subordinates, bade the new mistress welcome, and hoping she was not fatigued, presented her with a bouquet of white roses. “Because his lordship told us all, when he was here making the arrangements, that your ladyship was as beautiful as a white rose!”
And tears welled up in Zara’s eyes and her voice trembled, as she thanked them and tried to smile.
“She was quite overcome, the lovely young lady,” they told one another afterwards, “and no wonder. Any woman would be mad after his lordship. It is quite to be understood.”
How they all loved him, the poor bride thought, and he had told them she was a beautiful white rose. He felt like that about her then, and she had thrown it all away. Now he looked upon her with loathing and disdain, and no wonder either—there was nothing to be done.